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International money transfers hit $613 billion this year — here's what young, tech savvy users value most about them

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 10:02pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here.

Remittances, or cross-border peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfers, hit a record high of $613 billion globally in 2017, following a two-year decline.  And the remittance industry will continue to grow, driven largely by digital services.

Several factors will fuel digital growth globally, such as increased smartphone penetration, greater demand for digital transactions, and an overall need for faster cross-border transfers. And with the shift to digital comes an audience of younger, digital-savvy customers using remittances — a segment that companies are looking to target.

As a result, the global remittance industry is becoming increasingly competitive for firms to navigate, with incumbents like Western Union and MoneyGram competing for the same pool of customers as digital upstarts like WorldRemit and Remitly. And in order to win, companies across the board will need to prioritize the four areas consumers value most in remittances: cost, convenience, speed, and safety.  

In The Digital Remittances Report, Business Insider Intelligence will identify what young, digitally savvy users value in remittances. We will also detail the concrete steps that legacy and digital providers can take to effectively capture this opportunity and monetize digital offerings — the primary growth driver — to emerge at or maintain their presence at the forefront of the space. 

The companies mentioned in the report are: MoneyGram, Remitly, Ria, Western Union, WorldRemit, TransferWise, and Xoom, among others.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • The global remittance industry recovered from a two-year decline in 2017 to reach a record $613 billion in transfer volume. That growth will continue and will be fueled by digital remittances, which Business Insider Intelligence expects to grow at a 23% CAGR from $225 billion in 2018 to $387 billion in 2023.
  • There’s a new segment of customers that both legacy and digital firms are competing to grab share of. Young, digital-savvy consumers are the customer segment that all firms are vying to reach, which is creating a highly competitive dynamic. The needs of those consumers will precipitate transformational change in the industry.
  • We’ve identified several tangible steps firms can take to improve in four key areas — cost, convenience, speed, and security — to not only attract but also maintain this customer segment to align with their preferences and ultimately win in the space.

 In full, the report:

  • Outlines the global remittance landscape and sizes the opportunity that the industry presents. 
  • Identifies the new audience for remittances and future drivers of the remittance space going forward. 
  • Discusses four key areas that providers can focus on — cost, convenience, speed, and security — to improve offerings and ultimately capture that shifting audience. 
To get this report, subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to: This report and more than 275 other expertly researched reports Access to all future reports and daily newsletters Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry And more! Learn More

Or, purchase & download The Digital Remittances Report directly from our research store

SEE ALSO: These were the biggest developments in the global fintech ecosystem over the last 12 months

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Rewards-related offerings are the leading driver of consumers' credit card choices — but they can be pricey for issuers

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 9:02pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

The average US consumer holds about three nonretail credit cards with a balance over $6,000, according to Experian. As confidence rises, spending is hitting prerecession levels. For banks, that should be a good thing, since credit cards are profitable. But the push to attract a particularly interested and engaged customer base through sign-up bonuses and lucrative rewards offerings has led banks into a rat race, with surging expenses and rising delinquencies that are hurting returns.

To make credit cards as valuable as they could be, and to bring returns back up, issuers need to direct their efforts not just toward becoming one of consumers’ three cards, but also toward becoming their favorite card. Rewards are more important than ever — three of the top four primary card determinants cited by respondents to a Business Insider Intelligence survey were rewards-related — so abandoning them isn’t effective.

Instead, issuers need to be more resourceful with their rewards offerings, focusing on areas that encourage habit formation, promote high-volume spending, and help to offset some of the rewards costs while building engagement and loyalty.

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence sizes the US consumer credit card market, explains why return on assets (ROA) is on the decline, highlights the importance of rewards in attracting customers, and lays out three next-generation rewards strategies that are popular among certain demographics, which issuers can implement to return their card business to profitability. To drive this analysis, we conducted a survey centered on users’ card preferences to over 700 US members of our proprietary panel in May 2018.

Here are some key takeaways from the report: 

  • Competition driven by consumer card appetite in the US is hurting issuer returns. Consumer confidence and regulatory policy that favors credit cards should be a boon to issuers. But the competition has surged expenses to unattainable levels and increased delinquencies, which are causing returns to trend down.
  • Consumers still value rewards above all when it comes to cards. Two-thirds of respondents to our survey cited rewards-related offerings as the leading driver of primary card status, but they can be pricey for issuers.
  • Using resources strategically and offering rewards types that encourage high-volume spending and drive engagement through habit formation, like flexible offerings, rewards for e-commerce, and local bonuses, could be the path to success in the future.

In full, the report:

  • Identifies the factors that are causing high credit appetite to hurt issuer returns.
  • Explains the value of top-of-wallet status, and evaluates the factors that drive it based on proprietary consumer data.
  • Defines three popular next-generation rewards options that issuers can use to drive up spending and engagement without breaking the bank.
  • Issues recommendations about how to offer these rewards and what demographic groups could be most receptive to them.
Get The Consumer Cards Report

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Pinterest prices IPO at $19 per share, giving it a $10 billion valuation — lower than its $12.3 billion private valuation

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 8:08pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Pinterest priced its IPO at $19 a share on Wednesday, giving it a valuation of $10 billion.
  • It's above the range the company originally set for its IPO, though still below its last private funding valuation of $12.3 billion.
  • Pinterest is expected to start trading on Thursday on NYSE under the ticker symbol "PINS."

Pinterest, the self-described "visual discovery" platform, priced its IPO at $19 a share on Wednesday, giving it a valuation of $10 billion.

The company is expected to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday under the ticker symbol "PINS." It's joined by another multi-billion dollar unicorn — Zoom, the video conferencing platform, which is also expected to list on Nasdaq on Thursday under the ticker symbol "ZM."

Pinterest's IPO price is above the $15 to $17 range previously set by the company in a filing on April 8. At  the high end of that range, Pinterest would have been valued at $9 billion.

A $10 billion undiluted valuation would see Pinterest go public with a market cap well below the private valuation of $12.3 billion it had achieved in its last funding round. However, in a best-case scenario, Pinterest would be valued at $12.6 billion on a fully-diluted basis, putting it a hair above that last valuation.

Read more: Pinterest's IPO team wants to convince investors that it has more in common with Google than Snap

In the roadshow leading up to Wednesday night's pricing, Pinterest and its IPO team took pains to differentiate itself from other social media platforms, including Snap, which has struggled to please investors since going public in 2017, a person familiar with the process told Business Insider.

Pinterest's team compared the company to an earlier version of Google, except that its search engine is focused around images, not words. 

Pinterest generated $755.9 million in revenue in 2018, up 60% from $472.9 million in 2017. The company lost $63 million in 2018, down from $130 million in losses in 2017, according to its S-1.

In 2018, Pinterest's global average revenue per user was $3.14, up 25% from 2017. In the US, its 2018 ARPU was $9.04, and internationally it was just $0.25. ARPU is a common metric from measuring growth at ad-based businesses.

SEE ALSO: Uber spent $3.3 billion on acquisitions in 2018 and 2019 — 10-times more than Lyft

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Founders Fund made its first alcohol investment. Here’s how the 28-year old woman who founded the company is trying to change drinking culture for the better.

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 7:58pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Founders Fund led $7 million seed round Tuesday for Bev, a female-led direct-to-consumer rosé brand. This is Founders Fund's first investment in an alcohol startup.
  • Alix Peabody, Bev's 28-year-old founder, started the company in 2017 after draining her 401(k).
  • Peabody says the male-dominated alcohol industry and macho drinking culture are ripe for disruption, and hopes her brand will create a safe space for women.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Eleven years after investing in SpaceX, Founders Fund is betting on something more down to earth: canned rosé wine. 

The venture capital firm recently led a $7 million seed round investment in Bev, a female-led direct to consumer rosé brand. It's the Founders Fund's first alcohol investment. 

While going to Mars and swirling rosé might seem like incongruous missions, Founders Fund COO Lauren Gross tells Business Insider that the firm's investment strategy comes down to betting on entrepreneurs with the right stuff to disrupt an industry.

"Some of our more compelling successful bets started with young ambitious founders," Gross said. And Bev founder Alix Peabody checked all the boxes, she said. 

"We at Founders Fund pride ourselves in being intellectually honest and open to all founders in all sectors, and in this case, Alix was creating a powerful female-focused brand in a space that hasn't seen as many."

Peabody, 28, didn't have a background in the booze business when she started Bev in 2017.  After emergency surgeries left her unable to start a headhunting job and shouldering expensive medical bills, Peabody started a side business throwing day parties (dubbed "day-gers," according to Peabody) in Sonoma.

She realized the alcohol brands she worked with were mostly run by men and did not paint a particularly flattering light of women in their ads, and she says she felt could do better.

Read More: This CEO just raised $11.5 million to fix the broken field of fertility treatment by helping companies offer it as an employee benefit: 'A problem I couldn't let go of'

Since Peabody wasn't particularly well-versed in the supply side of the alcohol industry, she says she called up a man in the wine industry that she had been on a date with two years earlier, hoping he could help her make inroads in the tightly connected industry.

"He was literally the only person I knew in the industry," said Peabody. "I told him I wanted to buy rosé, he told me to go to the grocery store and I was like 'No, I want to buy, like, a lot. So he put me in touch with someone who introduced me to someone else, and it was literally one phone call after another picking people's brains on how to make this happen."

"The people running the alcohol industry haven't changed"

Bev sells rosé in 8.5 ounce cans (available in six packs, 12 packs and 24-can "party packs") online and in retail stores in Los Angeles. Commenters on the Bev website describe the blend as a "crisp, dry rose--not super sugarey," and the "most instagrammable can out there." Another reviewer commends Bev's lack of overcarbonation and "no funky aftertaste."

For all her wine's merits, Peabody says that the outdated laws and policies of the alcohol industry will continue to be a challenge for the young company.  A patchwork of state laws make it difficult to sell and ship wine between states. 

"The people running the alcohol industry haven't changed but the people who are buying alcohol have," Peabody told Business Insider. "You have all these laws and regulations that are a result of Prohibition, and women barely even worked let alone run and build companies then. Many of the big alcohol companies are family-owned, passed down generation after generation, and are predominantly male."

Peabody believes the best way to change an outdated industry that some see as problematic is to change it from the inside. Her company's mission to "break the glass," she says, extends well beyond alcohol and drinking culture. Peabody would not elaborate on the company's additional plans except that she intends to increase the 12-person team and invest heavily in developing new product offerings based on what her core customer wants.

"We're very much a 'build the plane as you fly it,' kind of thing," said Peabody. "It's also just, you got to be in the game to play it, right?"

SEE ALSO: The average Pinterest employee has $700,000 in equity according to a report which warns of disruption if the IPO is volatile

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Nearly three-quarters of bills will be paid digitally by 2022 — this is how banks can stay ahead of the trillion-dollar opportunity

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 7:02pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

Between housing costs, utilities, taxes, insurance, loans, and more, US adults paid an estimated $3.9 trillion in bills last year.

That market is growing slowly, but it’s changing fast — more than ever before, customers are moving away from paying bills via check or cash and toward paying online, either through their banks, the billers themselves, or using a third-party app.

Thanks to rising customer familiarity with digital payments, an increase in purchasing power among younger consumers more interested in digital bill pay, and a rise in digital payment options, nearly three-quarters of bills will be paid digitally by 2022, representing a big opportunity for players across the space.

In theory, banks should be in a great position to capitalize on this shift. Nearly all banks offer bill payment functionality, and it’s a popular feature. Issuers also boast an existing engaged digital user base, and make these payments secure. But that isn’t what’s happening — even as digital bill pay becomes more commonplace, banks are losing ground to billers and third-party players. And that’s not poised to change unless banks do, since issuer bill pay is least popular among the youngest customers, who will be the most important in the coming year.

For banks, then, that makes innovation important. Taking steps to grow bill pay’s share can be a tough sell for digital strategists and executives leading money movement at banks, and done wrong, it can be costly, since it often requires robust technological investments. But, if banks do it right, bill pay marks a strong opportunity to add and engage customers, and in turn, grow overall lifetime value while shrinking attrition.

Business Insider Intelligence has put together a detailed report that explains the US bill pay market, identifies the major inflection points for change and what’s driving it, and provides concrete strategies and recommendations for banks looking to improve their digital bill pay offerings.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • The bill pay market in the US, worth $3.9 trillion, is growing slowly. But digital bill payment volume is rising at a rapid clip — half of all bills are now digital, and that share will likely expand to over 75% by 2022. 
  • Customers find it easiest to pay their bills at their billers directly, either through one-off or recurring payments. Bank-based offerings are commonplace, but barebones, which means they fail to appeal to key demographics.
  • Issuers should work to reclaim bill payment share, since bill pay is an effective engagement tool that can increase customer stickiness, grow lifetime status, and boost primary bank status.  
  • Banks need to make their offerings as secure and convenient as biller direct, market bill pay across channels, and build bill pay into digital money management functionality.

In full, the report:

  • Sizes the US bill pay market, and estimates where it’s poised to go next.
  • Evaluates the impact that digital will have on bill pay in the US and who is poised to capitalize on that shift.
  • Identifies three key areas in which issuers can improve their bill pay offerings to gain share and explains why issuers are losing ground in these categories.
  • Issues recommendations and defines concrete steps that banks can take as a means of gaining share back and reaping the benefits of digital bill pay engagement.
Get The Bill Pay Report

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Video conferencing company Zoom prices IPO at $36 per share, giving it a $9.2 billion valuation — 9 times its last private valuation

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 6:40pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Video communication company Zoom priced its IPO at $36 per share on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the process.
  • This values Zoom at $9.2 billion, up from its last private valuation of $1 billion.
  • The company is expected to start trading Thursday on Nasdaq under the ticker "ZM."

The video communication company Zoom priced its IPO at $36 per share on Wednesday, above its expected range,  a source familiar with the process told Business Insider.

This values the company at $9.2 billion — about 9 times its last private valuation of $1 billion in 2017. CNBC previously reported the price.

The company is expected to start trading Thursday on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "ZM." It will be joined by Pinterest, another unicorn company valued over $1 billion, which is also expected to list on Thursday, this time on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "PINS." 

Zoom's IPO price comes in above the $33 to $35 price range set by the company in a filing on Tuesday. An earlier version of Zoom's S-1 from April 8 had set its range much lower, at $28 to $33 per share.

Read more: Billion-dollar startup Zoom filed to go public — and shares of a totally unrelated company also called called Zoom shot up 1,100%

Zoom, which sells cloud video communication software for use in the workplace, was founded in 2011 by CEO Eric Yuan, who was previously vice president of engineering at the video-conferencing company WebEx. Yuan joined Cisco in 2007 when it bought WebEx for $3.2 billion.

Unlike other unicorns in this year's IPO cohort, Zoom is profitable.

The company reported $330.5 million in revenue in fiscal 2019, which ended January 31. That's up 118% from $251.4 million in fiscal 2018. In 2019, $6 million of that revenue was profits.

SEE ALSO: Pinterest's IPO team wants to convince investors that it has more in common with Google than Snap

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This is how insurance is changing for gig workers and freelancers

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 6:04pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

The gig economy is becoming a core element of the labor market, pushed to the fore by platforms like Uber and Airbnb. Gig economy workers are freelancers, such as journalists who don’t work for one publication directly, freelance developers, drivers on platforms like Uber and Grab, and consumers who rent out their apartments via Airbnb or other home-sharing sites.

Gig economy workers are not employed by these platforms, and therefore typically don't receive conventional employee perks, such as insurance or retirement options. This has created a lucrative opportunity to provide tailored insurance policies for the gig economy. 

A number of insurtech startups — including UK-based Dinghy, which focuses on liability insurance, and US-based Slice, which provides on-demand insurance for a range of areas — have moved to capitalize on this new segment of the labor market. These companies have been busy finding new ways to personalize insurance products by incorporating emerging technologies, including AI and chatbots, to target the gig economy.

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence examines how insurtechs have begun addressing the gig economy, the kinds of policies they are offering, and how incumbents can tap the market themselves. We have opted to focus on three areas of insurance particularly relevant to the gig economy: vehicle insurance, home insurance, and equipment and liability insurance.

While every consumer needs health insurance, there are already a number of insurtechs and incumbent insurers that offer policies for individuals. However, when it comes to insuring work equipment or other utilities for freelancers, it's much more difficult to find suitable coverage. As such, this is the gap in the market where we see the most opportunity to deploy new products.

The companies mentioned in this report are: Airbnb, Deliveroo, Dinghy, Grab, Progressive, Slice, Uber, Urban Jungle, and Zego.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • By 2027, the majority of the US workforce will work as freelancers, per Upwork and Freelancer Union, though not all of these workers will take part in the gig economy full time.
  • By personalizing policies for gig economy workers, insurtechs have been able to tap this opportunity early. 
  • A number of other insurtechs, including Slice and UK-based Zego, offer temporary vehicle insurance, which users can switch on and off, depending on when they are working.
  • Slice has also developed a new insurance model that combines traditional home insurance with business coverage for temporary use.
  • Other freelancers like photojournalists need insurance for their camera, for example, a coverage area that Dinghy has tackled.
  • Incumbent insurers have a huge opportunity to leverage their reach and well-known brands to pull in the gig economy and secure a share of this growing segment — and partnering with startups might be the best approach.

 In full, the report:

  • Details what the gig economy landscape looks like in different markets.
  • Explains how different insurtechs are tackling the gig economy with new personalized policies.
  • Highlights possible pain points for incumbents when trying to enter this market.
  • Discusses how incumbents can get a piece of the pie by partnering with startups.
Get the insurtech and the gig economy

 

SEE ALSO: These were the biggest developments in the global fintech ecosystem over the last 12 months

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Markets Insider launches private-company data pages with help from Crunchbase

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 5:31pm  |  Clusterstock

If you're a loyal user of Markets Insider, you might have noticed something new on the site this week.

Thanks to a partnership with Crunchbase, information about thousands of private companies is appearing on Markets Insider for the first time.

To explore the new data, try reading a couple of the stories we've already written using it, like "PagerDuty, the 3rd unicorn IPO of the year, rockets higher by 50% in its trading debut" or "The IPO market has come storming back. Nasdaq's head of healthcare listings gave us the lay of the land".

Or maybe you have a specific company in mind that you want to investigate further. If that's the case, try searching for the company in the top right, in the same way you're used to searching for stocks or ETFs on Markets Insider.

If you do, you'll find yourself on a brand new type of page on Markets Insider, the private company data page.

Curious about Airbnb, Slack, or Stripe? Markets Insider now has that information. On their respective company pages, you'll find information about the company sector, as well as their founders, investors, and recent funding rounds.

Finding reliable information about private companies is a notoriously tricky task. Crunchbase has made a name for itself by uncovering this information and is now the world's leading site for accurate information on often-secretive private companies. It's why we decided to work with them to bring our users the most timely private-company funding information we can.

"We're excited to partner with ... Markets Insider and bring the power of Crunchbase to their members, enabling professionals to access data most important to them when discovering innovative companies and the people behind them," Jager McConnell, CEO of Crunchbase, said. You can read Crunchbase's announcement post here.

Our reporters will be actively citing the new pages in their stories and have already found it helpful in their reporting. We hope you like them just as much as we do, and be sure to let us know what you think.

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JPMorgan just handed its CFO a new role and it could be a sign she's a candidate to replace Jamie Dimon

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 5:01pm  |  Clusterstock

  • JPMorgan CFO Marianne Lake has a new role in charge of an expanded consumer lending business.
  • It will be the first time running a business for Lake, who is considered to be a frontrunner to replace CEO Jamie Dimon when he retires. 

JPMorgan shuffled management Wednesday, taking the chief financial officer and placing her in charge of an expanded consumer lending business and taking the head of cards and making her CFO. 

The bank said Marianne Lake, the CFO, would now be in charge of credit cards, autos and mortgage lending. She'll report to consumer banking chief and co-president Gordon Smith, according to a statement. While Lake won't be reporting to Dimon anymore, she will be getting on-the-ground experience running a business that is usually required to become CEO.

This will be the first time running a business unit for Lake, 49. She's been CFO of JPMorgan since early 2013, and served as CFO of the consumer and community banking unit before that. Prior to that she was the investment bank's comptroller. She began her career as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"We are fortunate to have such an extraordinary executive taking the helm of our Consumer Lending businesses, a part of the firm she knows extremely well," CEO Jamie Dimon said about Lake in the statement. 

Jennifer Piepszak, head of cards, will replace Lake as CFO. The changes are effective May 1. 

Read more: JPMorgan flipped the banking playbook, and it's helped it find customers, sell more products, and build new branches

Lake has long been rumored to be a frontrunner to replace Dimon atop the bank, though speculation took a new turn last week at a Congressional hearing in Washington. When Dimon and other US bank CEO were asked by a member of Congress to raise their hands if a woman was likely to succeed them, none of them did so. 

Dimon later clarified that JPMorgan does not comment on succession plans.

"That's a board-level issue," Dimon said on the bank's first quarter earnings call. "But also I was confused by the question 'likely' without a timetable."

He added: "So, we have exceptional women. And my successor may very well be a woman and it may not. And it really depends on the circumstance…And it might be different if it's one year from now versus five years from now."

Piepszak has run JPMorgan's massive credit card operation, and got much of the credit for the firm's huge success in rolling out the Sapphire Reserve card. The card proved so popular that JPMorgan briefly ran out of the metal the card is made out of. 

See also:

 

SEE ALSO: JPMorgan is in the middle of a 'massive process' of cleaning up thousands of databases, and it's hoping to unleash AI once it's finished

SEE ALSO: JPMorgan and Citigroup just closed bond desks for smaller trades in favor of algorithms. It's another sign that robots are taking over.

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There's now a cure for the deadly genetic disorder known as 'bubble-boy' disease

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 5:00pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Babies who are born with X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (XSCID) don't have disease-fighting immune cells. For them, the outside world is an intensely dangerous place. 
  • XSCID was nicknamed "bubble-boy" disease because of a young boy named David Vetter, who famously lived his entire life in a protective plastic bubble. Vetter died more than 30 years ago at age 12 after a failed treatment. 
  • St. Jude scientists just announced that they have successfully cured babies with XSCID, using a new experimental gene therapy that targets the disease at the genetic level.  
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

For babies born with the severe genetic condition known as "bubble-boy" disease, a run-of-the-mill common cold can be deadly.

Born without crucial disease-fighting immune cells, they must be kept isolated from the outside world for their own protection. Those with the disease normally spend months in the hospital and are treated for severe infections. Without treatment, most born with the disease die as infants. 

A new experimental medicine is now being called a cure for the condition by researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Ten babies born with the genetic disease, X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (XSCID), have been successfully treated, with no apparent side effects, the researchers said on Wednesday.

The kids are now making their own immune cells. Nearly all have been able to go home with their families and live normal lives, including attending day care, with one more recently treated child remaining at St. Jude for the time being.

"This is a first for patients with XSCID," said Dr. Ewelina Mamcarz of the St. Jude Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. Mamcarz is the first author on a paper about the results, which reports on the first eight children to get the treatment and is being published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.

A severe genetic disease that rose to fame in the 1970s may now have a cure

XSCID, which according to US government estimates probably affects at least 1 in 100,000 newborns, became famous in the 1970s because of a young boy with XSCID named David Vetter.

Vetter lived his entire life in a plastic bubble to protect him from a deadly infection. He became known as "the bubble boy."

His story quickly captured the public's sympathy and imagination, and it even inspired a made-for-TV movie about Vetter starring John Travolta. 

Those plastic chambers are now gone, but those with XSCID today still need to be kept in protective isolation to shelter them from infection.

One treatment option is a bone-marrow transplant, but not everyone can find a matching donor, and the treatments don't always work. The latter was the case for Vetter, who died at age 12 after an unsuccessful transplant. 

Read more: The treatment that cured 2 men of HIV may also help with a remarkable array of more than 70 deadly diseases

There has long been hope that gene therapy, a cutting-edge area of medicine that tinkers with the body's genetic material to treat disease, could help. But in early treatments, some patients went on to develop leukemia, stymieing research efforts. 

The new experimental treatment is called MB-107, and it's being developed by the biotech Mustang Bio, which has a  market value of roughly $80 million. The researchers worked to minimize the risk of patients developing leukemia.

That has so far been successful, with no patients from the research trial developing the cancer.

The treatment begins with a patient's stem cells, which are collected and treated outside the body with a hollowed-out virus, introducing a normally functioning gene to the cells.

Patients then get chemotherapy before being infused with their newly altered cells. The entire process takes about 10 days from start to finish.

Read more: 'This is the most complicated process I've ever seen': As billions flow into gene therapy, top execs say a crisis is brewing in the hottest new area of medicine

The use of low doses of chemotherapy was an innovation borrowed from bone-marrow transplants, in which it is used to wipe out a patient's existing immune system. In the new experimental gene therapy, it seemed to improve uptake of the treatment and minimize safety issues.

Researchers say this is effectively a cure for XSCID, but they don't know yet how long it will last. They've tracked patients for 2 1/2 years at most so far.  

In terms of "physiological, quality of life — this is a cure," Dr. James Downing, president and CEO of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, said. "The question is, will it be durable and last 10, 20, 50 years for these children?"

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One of the tech industry's leading critics says Apple and Google's new 'screen time' features will never work because they ignore the underlying problem (AAPL, GOOGL, FB)

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 4:49pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Tristan Harris is happy that companies like Apple and Google are starting to focus on their customers' well-being.
  • But efforts such as Apple's Screen Time are a bit misguided, because they don't address the underlying problem of attention manipulation, said Harris, the cofounder of the Center for Humane Technology.
  • Instead of giving consumers tools to monitor how much they use their devices and apps, tech companies ought to be encouraging users to do other things that are more fulfilling, he said.
  • Business Insider named Harris to its list of the 100 people transforming business. See the full list here.

Tristan Harris is encouraged by the big tech companies' recent focus on the well-being of their customers.

Encouraged, but truth be told, not all that impressed.

The problem with efforts such as the Screen Time feature Apple added to the iPhone and similar ones that Google added to Android is that the companies don't seem to understand and aren't really addressing the underlying problem, said Harris, a cofounder of the Center for Humane Technology and one of the tech industry's leading critics.

"I want to applaud the direction, but I think we have to get the diagnosis right," he told Business Insider in a recent interview.

Harris has repeatedly called out tech companies for exploiting what he calls the attention economy. For years, those companies have designed their products to take advantage of their customers' innate human mental proclivities and shortcomings to manipulate them into spending increasing amounts of time with those apps and services, he said. As Harris has detailed, design features such a "refresh to reload" systems and so-called infinite scroll pages play on users' basic instincts, getting them to devote more of their time and attention to particular products and services.

Read this: AN UNLIKELY REVOLUTIONARY: How Tristan Harris went from working at Apple and Google to consulting with heads of state about how to reform Silicon Valley

Giving customers usage data won't "magically" solve the problem

The companies now seem to think they can empower users to counter that manipulation in part by giving them more information on the time they're spending on their devices and apps, Harris said. But that's an "under-informed" approach, he said.

The thinking seems to be that if users just saw the data, "they would magically start to operate differently," Harris said. "And this is clearly not true, unfortunately."

Similarly misguided are the features that allow users to set limits on the time they spend on their devices or apps, he said. Such features don't address the underlying need or basic desire that users seem to have to interact with such products, he said.

"If the person is feeling the kind of anxiety and novelty-seeking craving in their lower nervous system that causes them to reach for their phone the second time this last 60 seconds ... it's not because they just need a seat belt or ... [need] a limit that says, 'don't do that,'" Harris said.

So what might actually counter the attention manipulation schemes?

Designers should encourage users to do things that are fulfilling

In general, designers should focus on having their products encourage people to make time in their lives for the activities that they find "regenerative" and that help them connect with the people around them, Harris said. That's going to take something other than asking them to set simple time limits, he said. The most effective counter to addiction is connection, not sobriety, he said, paraphrasing author Johann Hari.

When you focus on the things that are fulfilling to you, that connect and regenerate you, "you come back from that experience not feeling as twitchy for that next dopamine fix" from our phone or app, Harris said.

Harris also offered a practical design suggestion that companies and developers could incorporate into their products to help counter the attention manipulation. They could introduce into infinite scroll systems, like Facebook's News Feed, a randomized delay. As users scrolled through such systems, the feeds or pages would, at an unpredictable point, just start getting slower to scroll through.

You would "start to feel frustrated with how long it's taking, and you just start to give up," he said. "That would work. It wouldn't stop the whole problem, but it would work better than a reminder that says, 'Hey, it's been exactly ... an hour and 23 minutes.'"

But that's just one idea. Harris is confident companies and designers can and will come up with plenty more to address the problems of the attention economy.

"This is the opening inning of, hopefully, a whole reformation of the way we design these products to be sensitive to human nature," he said. 

Got a tip about the tech industry or a tech company? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: The real lesson of Facebook's Apple dust-up shows why Zuckerberg's 'hacker way' is even more dangerous than we thought

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A Nasdaq executive says companies are rushing to get their IPOs out before Trump goes up for re-election (VIX, NASDAQ, LYFT)

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 4:42pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Companies prepping for an upcoming IPO feel the rush to get things done in the near term, but it's not a market downturn that's speeding up schedules.
  • Instead, pre-IPO companies are trying to go public before the 2020 presidential election creates volatility in the markets, Nasdaq senior vice president Jeff Thomas told Business Insider.
  • Elections create noise and uncertainty, and sometimes lead to volatility, Thomas said, which is the last thing a company wants when going public.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When clients chat with Nasdaq about the timing of their IPOs, they're not worried about the next potential market downturn.

Instead, it's the 2020 presidential election that has companies racing to the markets, according to Jeff Thomas, Nasdaq's senior vice president of western US listings and capital markets.

"It's definitely going to create noise, uncertainty, and maybe volatility. So that's something that we hear from clients, that they are looking at 2020 as maybe a little more volatile," Thomas told Business Insider in an interview. 

"Just think about what the news cycle is going to be like next year. How many candidates are there in the Democratic race already?" he added.

As one of the two main American stock exchanges, Nasdaq plays a key role in getting companies ready for their public debuts. The exchange worked with Lyft on its March IPO, which valued the ride-hailing company at $21 billion. The video conferencing company Zoom is expected to list on Nasdaq on Thursday at an IPO that could value the company at around $9 billion.

When it comes to planning around volatility, many companies look to the Cboe Global Markets Volatility Index, known as the VIX, to figure out when to schedule an initial public offering, Thomas said.

Though IPOs typically take months, if not years, to prepare for, the VIX comes into play when planning the final stretch. Ttypically companies want their roadshows — a window of around two weeks when companies pitch their stock to investors — to take place while the VIX is below 20. 

"That's generally a sign that the markets are open and it's more likely that you're not going to have a big market correction affect the pricing of your IPO," Thomas said.

Read more: One of PagerDuty's earliest investors shares why he went big on the IT-management company before it reached $1.76 billion

Major spikes on the VIX don't always correspond with presidential elections, though data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows show a link between a high VIX number and general political uncertainty.

The VIX hit 59.89 in October 2008, just ahead of the presidential election that brought President Barack Obama in for his first term. The VIX hit 42.96 in September 2011, just as Occupy Wall Street took over the streets over lower Manhattan. And it hit 44.28 in August 1998, just before Kenn Starr released his report investigating President Bill Clinton. 

SEE ALSO: Pinterest's IPO team wants to convince investors that it has more in common with Google than Snap

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An investment advisor says $10 million can buy a comfortable life in Silicon Valley, but nothing 'lavish'

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 4:39pm  |  Clusterstock

In a place as expensive to live as Silicon Valley, it's harder than ever to tell who's truly wealthy.

Bay Area residents themselves say it takes a $4.2 million net worth, on average, to feel wealthy and $1.1 million to be "financially comfortable," according to a 2017 Charles Schwab survey.

Some financial experts peg those figures even higher.

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Helen Dietz, a certified financial planner and the director of wealth management for Aspiriant, told Mercury News that a family may need an annual income of up to $1 million — so, a much larger net worth — if their financial priorities include sending their kids to a top school, living in a larger home, buying a new car, and saving for retirement. That number only increases when goals such as travel or funding a future inheritance are accounted for.

Steven Jon Kaplan, investment advisor and CEO of True Contrarian Investments, told Mercury News' Leonardo Castañeda that it takes closer to a $10 million net worth to be financially comfortable. That's "a reasonable, but certainly not a lavish lifestyle" in the Bay Area, he later told Business Insider.

"Many people assume they will be able to keep working indefinitely until they are 90 or 100 years old but in real life that rarely happens," Kaplan told Business Insider. "Eventually people have to stop working and live off their accumulated investments, so unless they are getting a generous government or other pension this means that they have to generate enough income from savings."

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By the Pew Research Center's definition, Americans earning twice the median household income or more in their city are considered upper income. In San Francisco, that's annual earnings above $203,428, according to US Census data.

In that vein, there's good news ahead for Silicon Valley folk. The area is on the brink of millionaire maniaThe New York Times' Nellie Bowles reported. Several tech startups have gone public this year, or are gearing up to, and the cash infusion to employees and early investors will turn thousands of people into millionaires virtually overnight. Large salaries thereafter will only bolster massive bank accounts.

How much could your savings grow? Find out with this calculator from our partners:

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Atlassian beats Wall Street's expectations yet again with 38% revenue growth, but the stock slips down over 9% (TEAM)

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 4:25pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Atlassian beat Wall Street's expectations on Wednesday as it reported revenues of $309.3 million, up from 38% a year ago.
  • However, the stock was down a hair over 9% in after-hours trading at the time of writing.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Atlassian delivered yet another quarter of growth, seeing its revenue spike 38% from last year and surpassing Wall Street's expectations on both the top and bottom lines. 

"We achieved a strong third quarter and wrapped up another successful Atlassian Summit, our flagship user conference," Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian's co-founder and co-CEO, said in a statement.

However, shares of Atlassian were down just over 9% in after-hours trading at the time of writing, after telling investors that its earnings per share for the next quarter will be short of Wall Street expectations, though revenue is tracking ahead of guidance.

Here's what Atlassian reported:

  • Revenue: $309.3 million. Analysts were expecting $304.65 million.
  • Earnings per share: $0.21. Wall Street was looking for $0.18.
  • Revenue (next quarter): $329 million to $331 million. Analysts had predicted $327.32 million.
  • EPS (next quarter): $0.16. Wall Street was forecasting $0.19.

In the past quarter, Atlassian added over 5,000 new customers, bringing its total customer count to 144,038. And in April, Atlassian acquired software management startup AgileCraft for about $166 million.

Read more: The president of $26.6 billion Atlassian explains the 'gnarly problem' that prompted its $166 million acquisition of AgileCraft

At its most recent annual conference, it announced an array of new products, including new features for its team collaboration product Confluence.

Last quarter, Atlassian reported revenues of $299 million, up 39% from the year before.

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THE EVOLUTION OF THE US NEOBANK MARKET: Why the US digital-only banking space may finally be poised for the spotlight (GS, JPM)

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 4:02pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

Neobanks, digital-only banks that aren’t saddled by traditional banking technology and costly networks of physical branches, have been working to redefine retail banking in major markets around the world.

Driven by innovation-friendly regulatory reforms, these companies have especially gained traction in Europe over the last three years. While the US is home to some of the oldest neobanks — including Simple, which set up shop in 2009, and Moven, which was founded in 2011 — the country's neobank ecosystem has lagged behind its European counterpart.

That’s largely because of an onerous regulatory regime, which has made it very difficult to obtain a banking license, and the entrenched position incumbents hold in the financial lives of US consumers. Navigating the tedious and costly scheme for obtaining a banking charter and appropriate approvals has been a major stumbling block for the country’s digital banking upstarts. However, developments over the past year suggest these startups are finally poised for the spotlight in the US. 

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence maps out the factors contributing to this shifting tide, examines how key players are positioning themselves to take advantage, and explores how incumbents can embark on their own digital transformations to stave off disruption.

The companies mentioned in this report are: Aspiration, Chime, Goldman Sachs' Marcus, JPMorgan Chase's Finn, N26, and Revolut. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Despite lagging behind Europe, recent developments suggest that neobanks are finally ready for the spotlight in the US.
  • Three distinct influences are responsible for creating the fertile ground for this evolution: regulation, shifting consumer attitudes, and the activity of incumbent banks.
  • Among those driving this evolution in the US are foreign neobanks including Germany’s N26 and UK-based Revolut.
  • Meanwhile, two notable incumbent-owned outfits have deployed amid great fanfare: Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Finn by Chase. 
  • In this increasingly competitive landscape, incumbent banks have a range of strategic options at their disposal, including overhauling their entire business for the digital era.

 In full, the report:

  • Details the factors contributing to a shift in the US' neobank market.
  • Explains the different operating models neobanks in the US are deploying to roll out their services and meet consumer demands.
  • Highlights how incumbent banks are tapping into the advantages offered by stand-alone digital outfits. 
  • Discusses the key strategies established players need to deploy to remain relevant in the US' increasingly digital banking landscape.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >>Purchase & Download Now
  2. Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you've given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the fast-moving world of Fintech.

SEE ALSO: Latest fintech industry trends, technologies and research from our ecosystem report

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E-cig company Juul is considering creating a digital health tool for smokers who want to quit

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 4:00pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Juul is the most popular e-cigarette in America and the company is partially owned by Altria, the tobacco giant behind Marlboro cigarettes.
  • Juul is on a quest to show that its sleek devices can help adult smokers take up a healthier habit, despite pushback from regulators who are concerned about youth vaping.
  • The company has gotten a makeover in recent years and started doing health research.
  • Now, Juul is beefing up a team focused on behavioral research that could include work on an app or other smartphone-based tool for smokers who want to cut back.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

The e-cigarette company Juul is considering dipping its toes into digital health.

The company, whose sleek devices are the most popular e-cigarette in America, is beefing up a team focused on behavioral research, a Juul representative confirmed to Business Insider. Juul is hiring for two new positions that could consider, among other things, creating an app or other smartphone-based tool that would help smokers who want to use its products to stay away from cigarettes, job postings show.

Part of one new role, according to a job description posted on Juul's website last week, includes "developing the foundations for programs that more fully meet smokers' personal goals ... including mobile health-based intervention."

Partially owned by Altria, the tobacco giant behind Marlboro cigarettes, Juul has undergone a makeover in recent years as it works to position itself as a serious alternative to smoking.

The company has faced scrutiny for its popularity among young people. At the center of the debate is a six-month launch campaign that the company kicked off with a promotional party. The campaign featured images of young models on bright, colorful backgrounds and included ads on social media.

Beginning this year, Juul started publishing health research as it works to move from buzzy startup to established company.

A big aim of that research is to show that its flash-drive-like e-cigarettes might help smokers take up a healthier habit than using combustible cigarettes. Last month, the company financed a study which provided the first clear evidence that some people are using Juul e-cigarettes to cut back on smoking. 

The work from Juul's behavioral research team — along with any smartphone-based tool that it may create — would complement those efforts.

Erik Augustson, a former program director at the National Cancer Institute, is heading up the work of that team, the Juul spokesperson said. At NCI, Augustson worked on initiatives to get people to stop smoking, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

Augustson's team will also conduct more research into patterns of use among adults and youth and explore the kinds of factors that might play a role in whether someone uses the Juul to switch away from traditional cigarettes.

Currently, the team is heavily focused on submitting an application to have its products approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Juul spokesperson said.

'More than just products'

In addition to its e-cigarettes, Juul could eventually offer smokers an app or similar tool that they could use for support while they try to curb their use of traditional cigarettes. That might include connecting them with a network of like-minded peers with whom they could regularly check in, or something as simple as a resource that includes motivational chat rooms and videos.

Christopher Russell, the lead author of the study Juul financed and published last month and a psychologist at the Scotland-based research consulting firm CSUR, previously told Business Insider that he believes more e-cigarette companies should be working on behavioral tools like this.

"I think increasingly, e-cigarette manufacturers who are genuinely interested in being a smoking alternative, I think they need to start selling more than just products," Russell said.

"They need to start selling a service as well, where they give wrap-around behavioral support that includes things like videos and chat rooms. Something where there's a human-to-human interaction. So you get the satisfying product and a network of peers," he said.

As part of Juul's behavioral research program, its researchers are studying more than 70,000 participants, according to the Juul spokesperson. They are looking to learn whether and how these people change their smoking habits as they use the Juul over the course of up to a year.

"We remain focused on how we can best support adult smokers in their switching journey and that will continue to guide us as we submit our regulatory filings," the Juul representative said. 

SEE ALSO: We just got the first clear evidence that some people are using Juul e-cigarettes to cut back on smoking

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Lyric is a startup trying to combine the best parts of a hotel and an Airbnb — and it just got $160 million in a round led by Airbnb itself

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 3:40pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Lyric, a short-term rental startup with highly curated spaces designed for business travelers, raised $160 million in Series B funding led by Airbnb.
  • The round announced Wednesday included a who's who of tech and real estate investors, including Tishman Speyer, RXR Realty, Obvious Ventures, NEA,  former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, and former Twitter COO Adam Bain, among others. 
  • Along with new debt financing, Lyric has raised a total of $185 million since 2014. New funds will be used to open Lyric spaces in new cities and to develop loyalty and personalization rewards for Lyric guests.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

On Wednesday, short-term rental startup Lyric announced it closed $160 million in Series B funding to bring its highly curated rental spaces to new markets across the United States. 

Airbnb led the round, and other participants include a who's who of tech and real estate investors, including Tishman Speyer, RXR Realty, Obvious Ventures, SineWave, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, former Twitter COO Adam Bain, Starwood Capital Group CEO Barry Sternlicht, NEA, SignalFire, FifthWall and Tusk Ventures.

Lyric actually operates the spaces it rents out — in contrast to Airbnb's existing marketplace, which largely consists of individual owners listing their own homes and apartments. The company prides itself on its aesthetically-pleasing living spaces, aimed at business travelers. 

Currently operating in 13 cities, Lyric tries to design each space to reflect the city it's in, and works with local businesses and coffee shops to make each space feel a little different, cofounder and CEO Andrew Kitchell told Business Insider. 

Read More: Google's AI venture fund is leading a $3.85 million round into a startup that's trying to reinvent the industry for homeowners insurance

"The idea that short term rentals are just for backpackers and bachelor parties is wrong," said Kitchell. "And, actually, business travelers are increasingly looking for spaces like this and we can develop and maintain them."

Airbnb, now a Lyric investor, is famous for its early philosophy of asking forgiveness, rather than permission, as it entered new markets. However, Kitchell says that Lyric is going with a different tactic: It approaches the owners of multi-family developments before opening up shop, and either leases or buys space straight from the developer, so that nobody is caught by surprise and everybody is happy with the arrangement.  

Kitchell says that with this investment, Airbnb will bring legal expertise that Lyric will need, as its growth will inevitably present new regulatory and legal challenges. 

"Traditionally the tech world and the real estate world have not gone hand in hand and that's been something we've been working really hard the last 3 years to kinda show how it could be done right," said Joe Fraiman, president and cofounder of Lyric. "We want to show how we could be a great partner to real estate teams while still providing fantastic supply to the short term rental ecosystem while doing it in a totally compliant way."

Kitchell believes that Lyric represents a new category of real estate — something that isn't quite a hotel, but not quite the same as staying in someone else's apartment via Airbnb. 

The need for experience-based travel, as Kitchell and Fraiman explain it, was popularized by millennials who now make up close to half of all business travel expenses — but other customers were quick to catch on. Kitchell said the team is exploring the possibility of adding a loyalty program to compete with more traditional hotel chains. 

"We think some of the competitive moats we've built around data and software and some of the operations pieces give us an opportunity to create a lot of change," said Kitchell. "We have a pretty strong opinion about where the space goes and that's really valuable."

Kitchell and Fraiman said Lyric is not currently looking at an exit, saying the two are "having too much fun" to hand the reins over to other management.

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4 heavy-hitting hotel rewards cards are offering the highest welcome bonuses we've ever seen — but you only have weeks to get them

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 3:36pm  |  Clusterstock

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

March and April has been a bit of a renaissance period for hotel rewards credit cards.

Marriott has rebranded its three rewards credit cards and offered limited-time new member bonuses to mark the occasion, and the IHG credit card, which is often overshadowed by other brands' options, has had its highest-ever sign-up bonus on offer, presumably in an effort to raise its profile.

However, it looks like things are going to slow down by the end of the month. Each of these limited-time offers is coming to an end over the next few weeks. That means that if you've been thinking about earning a large credit card welcome bonus to cover some hotel nights, now is the best time to apply.

The Marriott Bonvoy cards offer 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months, while the IHG card offers up to 120,000 points, broken into two sections: 80,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months, and another 40,000 points when you spend an additional $3,000 within the first six months — in other words, a total of $5,000 in the first six months.

Read on to learn more about each of the credit cards with these limited-time offers.

Read more: 8 of the best credit card offers this month — including two huge hotel bonuses that end soon

1. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Welcome bonus: 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months). Offer ends April 24.

Last month, Marriott wrapped up a major rebranding of its loyalty program, combining it with the Starwood Preferred Guest program to create a single entity: Marriott Bonvoy.

The various terms and benefits of the program are virtually unchanged from what took effect in August, when the two separate programs were brought under a new single set of benefits.

The biggest changes under February's rebrand came to the Bonvoy's rewards credit cards, which are issued by American Express and Chase. To mark the occasion, both are offering a big, limited-time promotion on the personal cards they issue.

AmEx issues the premium version of Marriott's credit cards, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, formerly called the SPG Luxury Card. Until April 24, new cardholders can earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when they spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months.

While the card has a high $450 annual fee, it's easy to get much more value from it than you pay for that fee — especially if you stay at Marriott hotels semi-frequently.

Right off the bat, the card offers up to $300 each year in statement credits for purchases at participating Marriott hotels, which can apply to room charges. That effectively brings the fee down to $150.

It also offers a free night award each year on your cardmember anniversary, which can be redeemed at any hotel that costs 50,000 points per night or under. The card also offers complimentary Gold elite status, and comes with a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership.

The card earns 6x points at participating Marriott hotels, 3x points at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with the airline, and 2x points on everything else.

Click here to learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card from Insider Picks' partner, The Points Guy.

2. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Welcome bonus: 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months). Offer ends May 2.

Between the yearly $300 of credits, and the annual anniversary free night, the Bonvoy Brilliant card from AmEx tends to represent a better deal for cardholders.

However, the downside to that card is that you'll have to pay a $450 annual fee. Sure, you'll get the value back from the various benefits and rewards, but you'll still have to float that fee at the top of each calendar year.

For people in that camp, Chase offers the mainstream version of the personal card: the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card.

The Bonvoy Boundless currently offers the same welcome bonus as the Bonvoy Brilliant — in this case, it ends on May 2.

Like the Brilliant, the Boundless offers a free night award each year on your cardholder anniversary; the difference is that it's only good on rooms that would cost up to 35,000 points per night, rather than 50,000. Fortunately, that still includes plenty of properties.

The Boundless card comes with complimentary Silver elite status. Silver doesn't get you as much as Gold, but it's still something. You'll get a 10% bonus on points earned, priority for late checkout, access to a dedicated customer service line, free Wi-Fi, and more. While it's not a published benefit, you may also be given preferential rooms. You can get Gold status if you spend $35,000 or more in a calendar year. You'll also get 15 qualifying nights' worth of elite credit each calendar year, making it easier to earn Gold status or higher through hotel stays.

The card earns 6x points per dollar spent at participating Marriott hotels, and 2x points per dollar on everything else.

Click here to learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card from Insider Picks' partner, The Points Guy.

3. Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

Welcome bonus: 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (after spending $5,000 in the first three months). Offer ends April 24.

Marriott's small business rewards card is issued by American Express, rather than Chase, but otherwise bears striking similarities to the Boundless card, except for its higher $125 annual fee.

The card offers a free night award each year on your cardholder anniversary, worth up to 35,000 points. Starting on March 28, you can get a second free night when you spend $60,000 within a calendar year.

The Bonvoy Business card earns 6x points per dollar spent at participating Marriott hotels, 4x points at US restaurants, gas stations, on US cell service paid directly to the provider, and on US purchases for shipping, and 2x points on everything else.

Like the Boundless, the card comes with 15 elite night credits and complimentary Silver elite status. If you spend $35,000 in a calendar year, you'll get upgraded to Gold status for the following year.

Click here to learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Business card from Insider Picks' partner, The Points Guy.

4. IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: Up to 120,000 points (80,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months; an additional 40,000 points after spending a total of $5,000 in the first six months). Offer ends May 2.

IHG is the parent company of a handful of hotel chains, including Holiday Inn. The company has more than 5,600 properties around the world, making it the second-largest hotel brand, behind Marriott. IHG has a wide range of properties from budget options like the Holiday Inn Express, to luxurious Regent and InterContinental hotels and resorts.

IHG's Rewards Club program is often overlooked — I know I'm guilty of passing it over without a second look in favor of Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy (and back in the day, Starwood Preferred Guest).

However, the program is worth a second look, and a newly increased sign-up bonus on its primary credit card offers a perfect opportunity.

Right now, the IHG Rewards Club Premier card has a sign-up bonus of up to 120,000 points that is broken up into two parts. First, you'll earn 80,000 points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months. Then, you'll earn the remaining 40,000 points when you spend an additional $3,000 within the first six months (for a total of $5,000).

Rooms can cost as little at 10,000 points per night, depending on the property and its location within a city. The bonus is enough to cover almost two weeks' worth of nights at a Holiday Inn Express — even some in prime markets — or two to four nights at top InterContinental locations.

The card earns 10x points per dollar spent at IHG hotels, 2x points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1x point on everything else. It also comes with automatic Platinum elite status, which entitles you to a 50% bonus on points earned during a stay, complimentary room upgrades, late checkout when available, and guaranteed room availability with 72 hours' notice — helpful if you have a last-minute trip.

The Premier card offers an annual anniversary free night certificate that can be used at any category 1-7 hotel (hotels that cost 40,000 points per night or less). While that means that some of IHG's most premium locations are excluded, the certificate is still valid at a ton of locations all around the world.

For instance, I didn't have trouble finding properties in major cities like New York and Chicago during peak travel season — all charging well upward of $200 — that accept the free night certificate. That more than makes up for the card's $89 annual fee.

Click here to learn more about the IHG Rewards Club Premier from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

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Pinterest's IPO team wants to convince investors that it has more in common with Google than Snap (SNAP)

Wed, 04/17/2019 - 3:22pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Pinterest's IPO team wants investors to see the company as a visual search engine in line with Google, according to a source familiar with the pitch.
  • The team has also taken pains to dispel the notion the Pinterest is a social media site or comparable to the photo-sharing app Snapchat, which has sunk in value since it went public in 2017, the person said.
  • Pinterest is expected to go start trading on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "PINS."
  • Visit Businessinsider.com for more stories.

Pinterest wants investors to know it's not like Snapchat. 

During recent meetings with investors ahead of its upcoming IPO, Pinterest's team has gone to pains to position the company as a visual discovery tool. A key part of the sales pitch during Snap's recent IPO roadshow, according to a source familiar with the matter, is that the company has more in common with the early days of Google's search engine business than with the photosharing teen sensation Snapchat.

Establishing that identity is crucial as Pinterest prepares to begin trading on Thursday, in an $11 billion tech IPO clouded by some unfortunate comparisons.

The most recent high-profile social media company to go public, Snap priced its shares $17 a pop in its 2017 IPO only to watch them sink below $5 by the end of 2018. Snap's pitiful performance in the public markets was on investors' minds as Pinterest made the rounds, the person told Business Insider. 

And of course, there's been the recent price fluctuations for Lyft, which went public on March 29 above its price range only to fall far below in the following weeks of trading.

Silbermann versus Spiegel

Pinterest founder and CEO Ben Silbermann has played an important role in efforts to make a good impression with investors and to stand apart from Snap, whose CEO Evan Spiegel has had a rocky relationship with Wall Street, the person said.

As founders, both Spiegel and Silbermann have dual class structures which empower them to maintain voting control over the company, even if they sell much of their stakes. So a good first impression from Silbermann could go far with investors as they weigh whether to invest in a company where their shares don't enable them to impact decisions.

Read more: Zoom raised its IPO price range and could begin trading Thursday with $9 billion valuation

Despite its rejection of the social media label, some of Pinterest's underwriters compared the company to Twitter and Facebook, in part because of business models which rely on advertising, the person said. 

Some investors were concerned about the difficulty of advertising on Pinterest, compared to a company like Facebook, the person said. In response, Pinterest's team argued that the nine-year-old company was still very early in building out its advertising business.

It's still to be seen how these concerns will impact where the stock prices.

On April 8, the company set a price range of $15 to $17 a share for a high valuation of $11.3 billion — a down round for the company which was last valued at $12.3 billion on the private markets.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the company could price above this range. The company is expected to set a price on Wednesday night and to start trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "PINS".

Pinterest generated $755.9 million in revenue in 2018, up 60% from $472.9 million in 2017. The company lost $63 million in 2018, down from $130 million in losses in .2017.

Pinterest also uses average revenue per user as a metric for measuring growth, a common metric for companies that rely on advertising revenue. In 2018, Pinterest's global ARPU was $3.14, up 25% from 2017. In the US, its 2018 ARPU was $9.04, and internationally it was just $0.25.

Read more:

SEE ALSO: One of PagerDuty's earliest investors shares why he went big on the IT-management company before it reached $1.76 billion

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